Shirley Heinze Land Trust Holds Annual Spring Benefit

(Photo provided by Shirley Heinze Land Trust)

Shirley Heinze Land Trust says its annual Spring Benefit raised over $294,000 to support the organization’s mission. The theme for the 2023 gala held in May at Urschel Pavilion in downtown Valparaiso was “Growing a Community of Stewards.” Stewardship staff and volunteers were celebrated for their contributions to the conservation of Shirley Heinze’s 3,000 acres of protected land across northwestern Indiana. Key to the event’s fundraising success was a challenge by Dale and Nancy Nichols, Leslie Shad and Joseph Brennan, and Anne and Tim Walsh to match all pre-event donations up to $100,000, the non-profit says, adding that the match was easily met. Corporate sponsors included Cleveland-Cliffs and NIPSCO.

“Our stewardship goals require partners and volunteers across our six-county geography. That’s why we strive to build connections between nature and the communities we serve,” said Deputy Director Bridget Harrison. “We collaborate with many organizations – other nonprofits, government agencies, foundations, universities, businesses, and industry – to advance this grand undertaking. We value all of our partnerships and the collaborative work that we do together to support our stewardship.”

Executive Director Kristopher Krouse told the gathering that Shirley Heinze acquired its first nature preserves in Starke and Marshall Counties at the end of last year. “Then at the beginning of this year we increased the size of Meadowbrook Nature Preserve, our headquarters just up the road, to 300 acres,” he added. “Another 130 acres on the East Branch of the Little Calumet River Corridor was preserved last month bringing a vision from 2010 even closer to reality, with over 650 acres of floodplain forest now preserved and accessible by foot or kayak.”

Attendees at the annual gala were treated to an evening of fine dining courtesy of Sullon’s Catering and Val’s Cakes and live music by the John Wesley Experience, the nonprofit said. The evening wrapped up with a live auction featuring five unique experiences including guided hikes, a paddling adventure, and a behind-the-scenes museum tour.

“We value and appreciate the generosity of all the sponsors who supported our event,” said Harrison. “These include Tom Kosel & Rosemary Bell, Myrna Newgent, Barbara E. Plampin, BP America, Inc., Nancy & Allen Johnson, Susan Loeb & Laurence Stanton, Jean Rudd, 1st Source Bank, Larry & Susan Bamesberger, Berglund Construction, Marshall Blankenship & Susan Perdomo, Tom & Terry Cera, Nina Diamond & Jay Fahn, Jo Ann Engquist, Fulcrum Bioenergy, Porter County Community Foundation, South Bend-Elkhart Audubon Society, Spero Valavanis, Waxi Taxi, and Purdue University Northwest.” Plans for the 2024 Spring Benefit will be released in the newsletter available at .

Since 1981, Shirley Heinze Land Trust says it has preserved and restored natural lands and waters in northwestern Indiana, including some of the rarest landscapes in the state, encompassing over 3,000 acres in Lake, Porter, LaPorte, St. Joseph, Starke, and Marshall counties.

For more information on the work and nature preserves of Shirley Heinze Land Trust, visit , call (219) 242-8558, or access its Facebook page at .